Category Archives: Analysis

Where it all begins

In just over 5 hours the 2006-2007 NFL season will be under way with the Eagles-Raiders Hall of Fame game from Canton, Ohio. It’s the first of the preseason games, so it’s not even sort of significant, unless there’s a major injury to a star player, so I won’t bother doing a preview, or even predicting who’s going to win, because it’s unpredictable how well random third string punters are going to perform.

A couple players to watch, though:

Oakland
Michael Huff, Safety- First round pick out of Texas.
Paul McQuistan, Guard- Third round pick. A lot of what will determine how Aaron Brooks performs this year depends on how well the offensive line holds up.

Philadelpiha
Reggie Brown, Reciever
Gregg Lewis, Reciever
Jeremy Bloom, Reciever

The Eagles’ season depends on how well their reciever, non of whom are all that great, are able to perform. We get our first look at a couple of them, and others are going to be thrust into new roles for the very first times.

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Ranking the elite NFL quarterbacks

Very few debates in professional football stir up as much heated discussion as who the best quarterback is, who the best quarterbacks are, and variations of those two. Assuming (and this is not necessarily a safe assumption) that all quarterbacks who suffered injuries last year are fully healthy at the start of the season, this is how I would rank the top five quarterbacks in the league.

1. Peyton Manning- Sorry, but I am not and never have been one of the Tom Brady worshipers. The guy’s great, but he’s not the greatest quarterback ever, of the last twenty years, ten years, five years, year, or right now. I’d take Peyton Manning over him any day, and I think that if Manning and Brady were on opposite teams over the last five years, Manning would have had at least the amount of success Brady has had, and Brady a good bit less than Manning. Many recoil when I saw this, but Brady is really just a system player. That doesn’t mean he’s not good, I have him at number two, but he’s just not the freak of human nature people have painted him to be. His intagibles are the best, but physically and mentally he’s not the player Manning is, and he doesn’t have the skill or trust from his coaches to do quite the amount of on-field play calling and adjusting Manning does.

2. Tom Brady- I basically gave all my arguments above. Tom Brady is thriving in the system he is in, as it’s basically been built around him. He might do well on another team, but he wouldn’t be considered the quarterback he is now. I think the really great quarterbacks could do well on any team.

3. Carson Palmer- The knee injury makes me a little distrustful of him starting out this year, but assuming he makes a full recovery, he should be even better, and he’s well on his way to being the next Peyton Manning. After only two years of playing time he’s already established himself as one of the best out there. There just isn’t a throw he can’t make, and the deep out, the throw that sets aside great quarterbacks, is one of his best.

4. Ben Roethlisberger- He doesn’t stand out as much as others because his numbers aren’t as good, and he has a good running game, but the guy’s the youngest quarterback ever to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory, he’s 27-4 since entering the league, and in the span of about two months he led the Steelers to victory over the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best teams in the AFC, as well as the top two teams in the NFC. He’s great under presssure, and he looks to have an unbelievably bright career ahead of him, especially with his recovery from the accident going so well.

5. Drew Brees- A player who I think is all in all fairly underrated. Why the Saints let him go in favor of the untested Philip Rivers is beyond me, but it’s a decision I think they’re going to regret. Brees completely turned around the San Diego franchise, and put up some stunning numbers at the same time. His passer rating has been excellent, and he’s got over 50 touchdowns in the last two seasons.

A developing trend

There is a definite trend starting up among NFL scouts and talent evaluators, and that is obsession with two kinds of athletes:

1. Former basketball players
2. Former quarterbacks converted into “slash”s.

The first is not surprising given that Antonio Gates was a unanimous all-pro choice, and has been dominating the league, but I still think that he’s more of a unique athlete who learned some tricks as a basketball player. The idea that any big guy who used to be good at basketball is guaranteed to succeed in the NFL is very flawed.

The second is obvious because of two players- Antwaan Randel El, former Steelers wideout who earned himself a couple million dollars in the Super Bowl with the perfectly thrown bomb to Hines Ward on an end-around. The other player is Matt Jones, picked in the first round of the draft last year by the Jaguars, a former quarterback converted to reciever. He didn’t really dominate last season, but he made some nice plays, and he’s supposedly been lighting it up in the off-season camps.

My thought is basically this- Yes, there have been some players that fit the two roles I described that have been astounding (Gates, Randel El, etc.), but that doesn’t make someone who fits the description automatically worthy of consideration as an elite prospect, but I’m afraid that’s what’s happening.